IPRS Panel Discussion – Leadership & Global Opportunity for Women in the Fast Changing World of Public Relations

IPRS Panel Discussion – Leadership & Global Opportunity for Women in the Fast Changing World of Public Relations

The public relations (PR) scene in the 21st century is an exciting one to be in – this is how the moderator of the panel discussion, Christina Cheong, Former Chairman, Weber Shandwick Singapore, started the session. The media industry is shrinking. Some news reporters are out of jobs. They then move on to join the PR industry with their journalistic skills. What then, does the future of PR for women look like?

Georgette Tan, Senior Vice President, Communications, Mastercard, was invited as a panellist to share her experience in PR as a mother. She used to be proud of how she “multitasked” family and work. However, she learnt it the hard way from her own daughter that it’s better to be fully present or absent – nothing in between. “My daughter told me, ‘Mom, it’s okay not to be here. Just don’t come here and do work.'”

Yvonne Koh, Former Director, Head of Communications, Asia Pacific, Paypal, was also invited to share. She says that the relationship with the media as a PR practitioner is key. It is important to empathise with the needs of the reporter so that you can deliver the right message at the right time. “Understand that there is a face behind every news release you send,” Yvonne said.

Yvonne’s experience has taught her to be relentless. She did not receive formal education in PR or communications, so she read up extensively during the weekends at the library about PR. She even handwrote her fax covers and translated her press releases to get the attention of the Chinese journalists, to the point where the journalists remembered her.

Throughout the session, the importance of having a supportive partner was stressed time and again by both Georgette and Yvonne. The nature of PR is intense. When a crisis happens, a PR practitioner cannot leave. As a mother, your partner needs to be able to be there for the children and understand that it is part of your job.

There is no such thing worklife balance… you just have to come to terms with it. Something has to give [way],” Georgette laughed as she said, “I’ll never be a size four again, and I’m okay with that.”

The empowering yet light-hearted session ended off with a Q&A, where the importance of taking time out for oneself was stressed. “Women take many forms of caregiving roles. It is already emotionally demanding on its own,” Yvonne shared, when asked about parenting advice.

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Panellists engaging in a discussion.

Participants listening to the panellists on their thoughts and views in regards to the fast changing world of Public Relations.

From left to right: Georgette Tan, Christina Cheang, Yvonne Koh.

The article was contributed by Lydia Chin, Communications Undergraduate, University of Newcastle Singapore